A Dance with Dragons is a book filled with terrifying surprises. In fact, the chronological read of Feast and Dance brings the reader to back to back heartbreak, but lord commander Snow’s end is probably the hardest one to accept. The issue with his stabbing is not about him abandoning the watch to mix himself in the affairs of the country, but rather that he is punished for a crime he never committed. It’s more than being judged for an intention, which is preposterous, but could be occasionally condoned, but rather that he is judged by an intention to do exactly what he has to do. As a matter of fact, he is punished for no crime at all, because when it comes down to the details, the Night’s Watch had received a serious threat and it’s the lord commander’s responsibility to protect the watch and its men. Lord commander Mormont had done the exact same thing when he went north of the wall. If the idea is dissected, however, it becomes increasingly plain to see that Jon was stabbed for much more than the presented intention. Since a Game of Thrones, the men of the Night’s Watch have been through a lot of stress, a strain much greater than what they faced previously when their only enemies were the wildlings. They lost more men in one month than any brother had ever experienced before. The unprepared enemy of their past was harder and stronger. The unexpected new enemy was infallible. On top of it all, they had to overcome a harsh upcoming winter, limited resources, natural adversity, the betrayal set by their own brothers that brought the death of their lord commander and the consequent arrival of a new one who welcomed into the kingdom the very enemies against whom they had always fought and who had given a place to women on the wall. They had to see men be forced to change their belief, accept a king in their midst who was very different from the one before for whom many of them fought and believed to be a great hero, but who had died, as far as they knew, thanks to the father of the new lord commander, and who had left behind a son to rule the kingdom. It’s enough to make anyone go bonkers, so when Jon said he would go to his childhood home, the truth became hard to accept. Every single stab came with the sentence: “For the Watch”. In reality, none of that was for the Watch. Men fight for their own ideals and principles. Anything else is a lie – But the truth is that no single man had done as much for the Watch in a very long time. Jon was more than simply the lord commander. He fought alongside his men. He considered every possible outcome. He faced the enemy, mingled with them, saw from their viewpoint, understood that they weren’t as bad as they were painted to be… His intentions were good and valid, but the path to the Seven Hells is filled with good intentions. Jon is sure to return, and following the education he received, he is likely to remember that the man who passes the sentence must swing the sword, and the fandom at large would likely enjoy reading once again any version of “Edd, fetch me a block”.
Art by Underpable